Braves avoid series sweep by Brewers
Atlanta is feeling the loss of first baseman Mark Teixeira, and it shows. Without his presence in the lineup, the bats were quiet for the first 2 games of the 3 game set. The Braves would score only 2 runs to back the pitching in the first 2 games.
Chuck James was called up from AAA Richmond to start in place of Tim Hudson. The Brewers sent Jeff Suppan to face him. James struggled in his comeback, giving up 6 runs in 2 and 2/3 innings. He didn’t help himself by walking 4 batters. Jeff Suppan was fantastic for Milwaukee. He would throw 7 innings or 5 hit, no run ball. Royce Ring also struggled in relief for Atlanta, allowing 3 runs in only 1 inning. He would be designated for assignment after posting a 31.50 ERA after the All-Star break. Strong hitting and pitching led the Brewers to a 9-0 win.
Game 2 saw C.C. Sabathia out duel Charlie Morton. Morton was very good, allowing 2 runs over 7 innings. This was a confidence booster for the young pitcher, even though he would take the hard loss. Sabathia continued his National League dominance by giving up only 2 runs in 8 and 1/3 innings. Milwaukee slipped away, taking the game 4-2. Sabathia has been fantastic for the Brewers since coming over from the Indians before the trade deadline.
In game 3 the Braves were able to avoid the sweep by beating the Brewers 5-0. Jorge Campillo was strong for Atlanta, allowing no runs over 7 innings. Ben Sheets was mediocre for Milwaukee. Sheets usually brings his best stuff against the Braves. On Sunday he pitched 6 innings of 2 run ball. Atlanta’s bullpen was excellent, allowing only 1 hit in 3 innings of relief. Casey Kotchman recorded another hit in 3 at bats. He appears to be settling down with the new team.
In injury news, the Braves are again crushed with another loss. Tim Hudson has chosen to undergo Tommy John Surgery. If all goes well he could return to the rotation this time next year. Rafael Soriano was placed on the disabled list for the 3rd time this year. He continues to have elbow discomfort while appearing in only 14 games for the Braves this year. The Braves did receive good news. Matt Diaz’s knee is healed and he will be starting his rehab assignment. He could provide an offensive boost to the team when he returns. Chipper Jones should be back in the lineup Friday when he is eligible to be taken off of the disabled list. He needs to stay healthy if he wants to have a shot at the National League batting title. Brian McCann could be in the lineup Monday. He was cleared to play but the Braves are taking it easy with their All-Star catcher.
With the loss of Tim Hudson, the Atlanta front office needs to stress signing an ace in the off-season. They got a good look at C.C Sabathia and Ben Sheets this week. Both pitchers will be free agents and should be the top targets for Atlanta in the off-season. With 37.5 million dollars dedicated to pitching next year, maybe both will be in an Atlanta uniform next year.
This week the Braves will fly to San Francisco. In game 1 the Braves will send Jair Jurrjens (10-6) to the mound to face Matt Cain (6-9). Cain has not been as bad as he seems this year. He has taken some tough losses due to the Giants’ weak offense. Mike Hampton (0-0) and Jonathan Sanchez (8-7) will pitch game 2. Hampton will try again for his first win of the year. Game 3 will have Chuck James (2-4) take on Tim Lincecum (11-3). Lincecum has been simply stellar for the Giants the year. He is a power pitcher that has a devastating curve ball.
By Ben Burrows
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